Josie Cardoso-Rojo is an immigration attorney who has focused on all aspects of removal/deportation defense with an emphasis on asylum law. Prior to joining KIND, she was a staff attorney at Human Rights First, where she mentored over 200 cases involving asylum, adjustment of status, TPS, cancellation of removal, and SIJS. Before Human Rights First, she was a solo practicing attorney focusing on removal defense, as well as family-based and employment-based immigration. She graduated from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 2014, and is licensed to practice in New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Josie currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her four yorkies.
Regional Director, Legal Services - East
Elisa Gahng is the Regional Director, Legal Services - East at KIND’s New York office. Prior to joining KIND in July 2017, Ms. Gahng served as the Assistant General Counsel at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), where she oversaw much of the office’s federal immigration law and policy docket, with an emphasis on increasing access to justice to particularly vulnerable immigrant populations in New York City including refugees, asylees, DACA-holders, individuals with Temporary Protected Status, and immigrant victims of crime. Prior to MOIA, Ms. Gahng served as a Staff Attorney at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, where she represented individuals before the immigration court and USCIS. Her previous experience includes work at the Women’s Refugee Commission, the International Organization of Migration, and the U.S. Department of Justice Headquarters Immigration Court. Ms. Gahng received her JD from Georgetown University Law Center and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Emily Norman is a Supervising Attorney at KIND where she advises pro bono attorneys seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, Asylum, and other forms of relief for their child clients. Previously, Emily worked for the Institute for Women in Migration (IMUMI), a nonprofit organization in Mexico City providing legal services to deported and returned migrant women and their children. At IMUMI, Emily represented clients applying for U Visas and VAWA petitions. She also assisted with transnational custody cases due to family separation after deportation. Before becoming an attorney, Emily taught middle school history in the Bronx. Emily is a graduate of Harvard Law School, the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University and the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University. She is a member of the Massachusetts bar and is fluent in Spanish.
Ariel Gould is a Senior Attorney at KIND. She joined the KIND team in December 2020. Before coming to KIND, she represented clients in all aspects of humanitarian and family-based immigration, including asylum, SIJS, and removal defense. Ariel came to immigration via international human rights, including research in the US and field work in Argentina. Ariel received her JD from George Washington University Law School, a Masters in Latin American and Hemispheric Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs, and her BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. She is licensed in California and New York.
Whitney Hood joined KIND in February 2022 as a Senior Attorney. Previously, she’s worked in anti-violence and immigrants’ rights spaces representing survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and gender-based violence in family law and immigration law, she’s lobbied for improved state and federal protections for survivors, and worked on human rights investigations of gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea. Whitney was an Equal Justice Works Fellow at Sanctuary for Families Anti-Trafficking Initiative in 2016. She graduated a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar from Columbia Law School.
Mikaela Harris is a Senior Attorney at KIND where she both advises pro bono attorneys seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, and other forms of relief for their child clients and represents child clients directly. Formerly, Mikaela worked in the Immigration Intervention Project at Sanctuary for Families (SFF) where she screened victims of sexual and gender-based violence for immigration benefits. At SFF, Mikaela represented clients applying for affirmative immigration benefits such as U Visas, VAWA petitions, T Visas, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, and asylum as well as in removal proceedings before the Executive Office of Immigration Review. Mikaela speaks both French and Spanish, and is a graduate of Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Georgetown University Law Center, and the University of Florida, summa cum laude. She is admitted to practice in New York and the District of Columbia.
Diana Ricaurte is a Staff Attorney at KIND’s New York Office. Before joining KIND, Diana was an Immigrant Justice Corps Fellow (IJC) placed in CARECEN. As an IJC fellow, Diana represented families and UC’s in removal proceedings living on Long Island. Diana predominantly worked with single mothers and their children seeking asylum in the United States along with UC’s eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). Diana also served as a Staff Attorney at The Door working with Detained Youth in ORR custody. Diana received her JD from St. John’s University School of Law and her BA from SUNY Binghamton. Diana is admitted to practice law in New York.
Maria Ortega-Dilone is a Staff Attorney at KIND's New York City Office. Maria was first exposed to Immigration Law when she interned at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs in 2014. During her time in law school, she had an array of exposure to immigration law. During her first year of law school, she traveled to Texas and volunteered with RAICES, where she assisted women and children in detention centers with their Credible Fear Interviews. She later interned with Catholic Charities of NY. There she assisted Unaccompanied Minors with their Asylum and Special Immigrant Juvenile applications. Maria was part of the St. John’s Refugee and Immigration Litigation Clinic, where she continued her work assisting families obtain immigration relief. After law school, Maria was a Staff Attorney for the New York City Housing Authority Department of Equal Opportunity. She conducted investigations regarding discrimination and harassment. Maria received her Juris Doctorate from St. John’s University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from the City College of New York. Maria is admitted to practice law in New York and is fluent in Spanish.
Gabriela Mendez received her Juris Doctorate from the University of San Francisco School of Law. Passionate about the rights of refugees and immigrants all over the world, she has traveled to Lesotho and Mexico City in pursuit of holding governments accountable to violations of human rights including immigrant rights. Immediately after law school she held various fellowships including at Asylum Access where she worked on researching the treatment of refugees in countries of first asylum such as Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. And also had a fellowship with Human Rights Advocates working on finding avenues for Native American communities to reacquire their sacred cultural patrimony from auctions houses. As an immigration attorney at Centro Legal de la Raza in Oakland, California, she worked on the immigration detention team helping individuals get out of immigration custody and defending them against deportation. Most recently, Gabriela has provided direct representation to children and families as a staff attorney at the University of San Francisco School of Law's Immigration and Deportation Defense Clinic before asylum officers and immigration judges. This clinic, which she first participated in during law school, gave her the opportunity to spend a week in Dilley, Texas at a detention center where recently arrived mothers and their children are sadly detained. It opened her eyes to the extreme injustice in our U.S. immigration system. She is a recent transplant to New York City from the Bay Area.
Janna Royer is a Staff Attorney at KIND ‘s New York office. Prior to joining KIND in October 2019, Janna was a Staff Attorney for the Immigrant Child and Family Rights Project at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. At the Young Center, Janna served as a child advocate for detained migrant children in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Prior to the Young Center, Janna conducted research in human trafficking while pursuing her LL.M. Janna is a graduate of American University Washington College of Law, where she obtained her Juris Doctor and her LL.M in International Legal Studies with specializations in International Human Rights Law and Gender & International Law.
Molly Kammien is a Staff Attorney at KIND’s New York office. Prior to joining KIND, Ms. Kammien worked as a litigation associate at Seward & Kissel LLP and provided pro bono representation to clients seeking asylum, U Visas, VAWA petitions, and Battered Spouse Waivers. Ms. Kammien also interned as a Legal Fellow at Refugee Rights Turkey in Istanbul and with the Bronx Defenders’ Immigration Defense team. She received her JD from Brooklyn Law School and her BA from Boston College. Ms. Kammien is admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey.
Veronica Montalvo is a Staff Attorney in KIND’s New York Office. Prior to joining KIND, Veronica was an associate at Kelley Drye & Warren, where her practice focused on commercial and complex civil litigation. As an associate, Veronica provided pro bono representation to clients in a variety of immigration matters, including asylum cases, VAWA and SIJS petitions, and U-visas. Veronica completed her undergraduate studies at Columbia University in 2009 and graduated from Columbia Law School in 2016. During law school, she represented unaccompanied minors in their asylum and SIJS claims as a member of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic. She is admitted to practice in New York.
Hugo Gonzalez Venegas
Hugo is an immigrant from Mexico and grew up in Portland, Oregon. He went to Portland Community College earning an Associate’s of Paralegal Studies and found a passion for immigration work after becoming a US Citizen. He went on to Portland State University graduating cum laude with a Bachelors in Political Science. He earned a Juris Doctor from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland. During law school he had the privilege of going to Dilley, TX to work at the South Texas Family Residential Center assisting mothers and children arriving at the border. He also clerked for Hon. Marco Hernandez of the U.S. District Court of Oregon. After graduating he clerked for Hon. David Rees of the Multnomah County Circuit Court. He recently moved to NYC and is excited to get to know the neighborhoods and take his Cairn Terrier (Maya) for walks and find great food.
Anupama is a passionate human rights advocate focusing her work on and prevention of gender-based violence and vulnerable immigrant communities. Prior to coming to KIND, Ms. Selvam worked as Staff Attorney at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, where she served as child advocate for detained immigrant children in the New York City area. During her law school tenure, she worked as a student attorney for her school’s International Human Rights Law Clinic where she represented clients in removal proceedings. Prior to law school, Ms. Selvam provided legal research for Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, a rape crisis center based in Johannesburg, South Africa and legal advocacy for survivors of sexual violence at Resilience (formerly Rape Victim Advocates), Chicago’s largest rape crisis center. Her previous experience includes work at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law on civil cases seeking restitution for victims of the Holocaust, Vital Voices Global Partnership, and the National Immigration Women’s Advocacy Project. Currently, Ms. Selvam serves as co-Chair of the Immigration Law Committee for the Women’s Bar Association of New York. Ms. Selvam holds a JD from American University Washington College of Law, an MA from the American University School of International Service, and BSc from Georgetown University.
Martin was first exposed to immigration law during law school as part of his 2L summer internship for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Office of the Chief Counsel, in San Diego, California. After passing the bar, he pursued a fellowship for a non-profit legal service in New York City that provides representation for low-income immigrant children as well as training and seminars for attorneys fulfilling their pro bono and CLE requirements. Among many forms of relief, Martin is proficient in asylum, VAWA and SIJS self-petitions, employment-based petitions (Hs, Ls, Os, and TN), cancellation of removal, stay of removal, requests for prosecutorial discretion and parole, as well as adjustment of status (green card) applications. He completed his undergraduate studies at Columbia University in 2009 and graduated from Fordham University School of Law in 2013. Martin is originally from Los Angeles and currently resides in Brooklyn.
Melida Ceballos is a Staff Attorney at KIND's New York office. Prior to joining KIND in November 2021, Melida represented clients seeking immigration relief at Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services in Washington, DC. Previously, she worked in the Immigration Group at Duane Morris LLP, the United Nations and the Inter-American Development Bank, and interned at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights First. Melida is fluent in Spanish and is a member of the New York Bar
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Interim Staff Attorney
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Bio coming soon!
Interim Staff Attorney
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Bio coming soon.
Mariel Fernandez is a paralegal at KIND'S New York field office. Being an immigrant from Dominican Republic and moving to New Jersey into a predominantly latinx community, Mariel understands the hardships families may experience when attempting to restart a safe life in a new country. During her time in her undergraduate career at New York University, Mariel traveled and focused her studies on cultural differences in psychology. She worked alongside refugees in Greece and France, as an advocate for girls in the Juvenile Detention System in New York City, and as a support specialist for victims of sexual assault at the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) in Washington, D.C. Currently Mariel is pursuing a masters degree focusing her research on inter-generational trauma at Columbia University and hopes to use her knowledge and understanding of trauma to continue to support vulnerable populations and inform policies in the future as a lawyer.
Cinderelle Mensah is a Senior Paralegal at KIND’s New York office. She has always loved working with immigrant and minority populations. Prior to joining KIND, she provided legal information and legal orientation to immigrants and unaccompanied minors through the New York State Immigration Hotline and Catholic Charities Community Service’s Immigration department. She has also completed paralegal internships with African Services Committee and Her Justice, two organizations that provide access to vulnerable African and Hispanic populations. The latter has allowed her to understand the struggles minority women who face domestic violence encounter in a country they know little of- and who in return knows little about them. The former has given her the opportunity to inform, guide and service vulnerable members of the African population seeking asylum in the United States. She graduated from John Jay Criminal Justice with a Bachelors Degree in Justice Studies and a minor in Paralegal Studies. She currently resides in East Elmhurst, NY and has a roommate for a cat. Ms. Mensah hopes she can become an attorney one day to participate in the emancipation of children and women rights in West Africa.
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Ricardo Medina is a Senior Paralegal at Kids in Need of Defense (KIND). He provides legal support for minors in the detained unit who are facing removal proceedings. He began working at KIND in October 2022. Before joining KIND, he was a paralegal with Immigration Equality, where he provided support and services to the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV+ facing persecution and seeking asylum in the U.S. In the past, he has worked with Centro Legal de La Raza in Oakland, California as an intake specialist; there, he assisted the immigration, housing, and employment teams in providing services to marginalized and low-income residents. Ricardo holds a B. A. in Sociology from Lehman College, a CUNY school; he has his A. S in social and behavioral sciences from City College of San Francisco. He was born in Mexico and raised in California; having gone through the immigration system, he understands how crucial culturally competent and compassionate representation is in the immigration context. Ricardo is passionate about social justice and advocates for vulnerable communities.
Marina Rioux joined KIND’s New York office as a Paralegal in June 2021. Prior to her work at KIND, Marina worked at Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) providing personalized legal information and community-based referrals to pro se litigants navigating the New York Family Court system. Before working at LIFT, Marina worked as the volunteer coordinator for the Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights' New York office where she managed volunteer recruitment, training, and continuing education and served as a child advocate for unaccompanied immigrant children. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where she double majored in International Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures.
Mirella Ramirez Munoz
Mirella Ramirez-Munoz is a graduate of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Since 2018, Mirella has prepared applications for family-based and humanitarian immigration cases under the supervision of attorneys. She hopes to one day work as a policy advocate, defending the rights and advancing the opportunities of immigrants and their families.
Michelle Cisneros supports the Legal Programs department at KIND as of November 2021. Michelle graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University in 2021 after earning majors in Political Science and Latin American Studies. She is the proud daughter of Latinx immigrants, which is a piece of her identity that has continuously informed her professional experiences. During her time in undergrad she was heavily involved with social justice and non-profit work serving underrepresented communities throughout New York City. She worked with Let’s Get Ready as a Site Director and Access Coach in 2018 where she tutored and mentored students through the college admissions and standardized testing processes. She also held a College Aide position with the New York City Law Department in 2018 within their Family Law - Juvenile Delinquency Division. In 2019, she went on to serve as a Congressional Intern in the Office of U.S. Senator Cory A Booker during his presidential run. After a student-led project to Puebla, Mexico, Michelle returned to the Bronx wishing to further study the complexities surrounding the migrant crisis through an independent research project analyzing the effectiveness of New York City as a sanctuary city. She worked with New Sanctuary Coalition to conduct her research as a Legal Clinic Intern and Research Fellow in 2019 and continued to do so until she graduated from Fordham. In the future, she hopes to go to law school to study international law to continue advocating for vulnerable populations worldwide.
Matthew Brill-Carlat joined KIND in December 2021 and supports the Legal Programs team as Paralegal. He graduated with honors from Vassar College, with a degree in History and a minor in Hispanic Studies. He also studied and conducted research in Cuba and Jordan. After interning at KIND’s Baltimore office in 2017, he was the Coordinator of Research and Pedagogy at the Consortium on Forced Migration, Displacement, and Education (based at Vassar College). There, he helped develop a minor in Migration and Displacement Studies, supported higher-education opportunities for displaced students, and developed research projects on forced migration. He is also a collaborating editor for a forthcoming collection of essays on forced migration pedagogy at the university level.
Rosalyn Valdez recently joined the KIND team in May 2021, supporting the Legal Services Department at their New York City office. She graduated cum laude from Quinnipiac University with a Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and a minor in psychology. She has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable populations in New York City. In her most recent position, she served as a Housing Service Coordinator for individuals with a wide range of mental health concerns. She provided trauma-informed, recovery-oriented support for a caseload of 28 - 50 individuals, which included the coordination of health and community services, facilitating fitness and social groups, and providing resources that allowed them to accomplish their individual goals. Throughout the pandemic she also ensured everyone she supported remained healthy physically and mentally. During her spare time, she volunteers as a College-Prep Mentor and tutor at South Bronx United and as a Dance Fitness Instructor with Shape Up NYC. Her life mission is to build a more equitable society through person centered services that focus on the individual’s needs, instead of what we assume they need.
Stephanie Ortega is a paralegal at KIND New York’s field office. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Criminology, Law and Justice with minors in Philosophy, Sociology, and Spanish. Before joining the KIND team, she gained experience in immigration law working on humanitarian visas with survivors of felonious crimes developing her interest in gender based violence work with nonprofits in Chicago. She has a special interest working with children and adolescents in a bilingual capacity as she was a Spanish teacher and a volunteer court advocate for neglected children in foster care. Most recently she worked at a rape crisis center providing free services and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault; she joined the KIND team in August 2021. In the future, she aspires to attend law school and continue her passion in social justice work.
Manuela Barker joined KIND’s New York Office Legal Services Department in October 2021. She has a dual bachelor's degree in Political Science and Human Rights from the University of Connecticut, where she completed an independent research project on corporate involvement in the oppression of human rights defenders in Latin America’s agricultural sector. Prior to her work with KIND, Manuela was a volunteer at Refugee 4 Refugees (R4R) in Lesvos, Greece, leading a project focused on the distribution of non-foodrelated items to residents of one of Europe's largest refugee camp. She also spent time as an intern for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in their Refugee Youth Summer Academy, supporting migrant children’s academic and social-emotional growth as they adapted to the U.S. school system.
Valeria joined KIND’s New York office in February 2020 as a paralegal on the released team, working with minors in removal proceedings. Prior to working at KIND, she interned at The Door’s Legal and Immigration Services, and volunteered regularly at Catholic Charities Immigration Services during their legal clinics and asylum screenings. Valeria graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in political science in February 2019. While in college, she conducted research on climate migrants, Internally Displaced Persons and the implications of current international laws on the increasing number of refugees displaced by climate change. She hopes to dedicate her career to the intersection of immigration and climate change. Valeria is a 2013-2015 United World College alumna, and at sixteen she naturalized as a U.S. Citizen in Miami, Florida. She now lives in Brooklyn.
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Senior Social Services Coordinator, National
At the age of 9 years old, Melissa, along with her mother and younger brother, relocated to the United States from their native country, Colombia. Although young, Melissa recognized how much easier and useful it would have been for her, and her family, to transition into the US if the appropriate resources and services had been available. Fueled by this experience, Melissa has been actively involved in numerous projects serving vulnerable populations. At The College of New Jersey, she taught English to undocumented immigrants and provided them with tools and resources on how to improve their life style, and volunteered with a group of autistic adults and at a state prison. Immediately after graduation, Melissa became a corps member for Teach for America and taught Spanish for 2 years in Detroit, Michigan. This impactful experience, undoubtedly, confirmed her passion and commitment towards empowering marginalized populations. After Teach for America, Melissa received her master’s degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis. Melissa could not be more thrilled to be working with KIND as a social service coordinator, and is looking forward to helping her team grow in order to provide clients with opportunities, and long-lasting positive changes.
Argelia Tlatelpa Perez
Senior Social Services Coordinator
Argelia Tlatelpa Perez recently completed her MSW from Fordham University in October 2019. She received her Bachelor's degree majoring in Psychology from City College of New York City in May 2009. Her working experience at Little Sisters of Assumption has been empowering immigrant families and educating them that they have rights and a voice in NY disregarding their legal status. While working with families she has been able to provide support to parents when a crisis arose. She has also provided play therapy when working with children who experience traumatic experiences at the Child Center of NY. Her dedication and contribution when working with immigrant families and young children who immigrate seeking a better future is rewarding to her because she knows that when working with children she is contributing to have a better society, human beings and gives hope to those in need.
Social Services Coordinator
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